Convention Weekend

transparent_full_logoAfter the December hiatus, I’m back on the convention schedule. This weekend, the first of the year will be Arisia in Boston (back at the Park Plaza for this year).

As always, I’ll be spending a lot of time at the Fantastic Books table in the dealers’ room. We’ll be open Friday from 5 to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm, and Monday from 10am to 2:30pm. And be sure to stop by for your first look at both Release the Virgins edited by Michael A. Ventrella, and Father of the Bride of Frankenstein by Daniel M. Kimmel.

And again, I’ll be on programming, though not a lot this weekend. They’ve got me scheduled for three panels:

Saturday at 2:30pm in the Cabot room, “Creating Cover Art” with Athena Andreadis, Michael Bailey, Elizabeth Leggett, and Kevin McLaughlin

Saturday at 4pm (despite my request to not have back-to-back panels while the dealers’ room is open, and I’ll be looking for someone willing to watch the table for me) in the Brandeis-Fast Track room, “Short Story Contest” with Kevin McLaughlin (I’m kind of surprised, given the dearth of available panels for me, that so few people have been assigned to this one)

Sunday at 8:30am (yes, you read that correctly: 8:30 in the morning) in the Winthrop room, “Siblings in SFF” with A.J. Odasso, Julia Gilstein, Nathan Comstock, and Debra Doyle

Hope to see you there!

2018: My Year as a Reader

Several years ago, I used to wrap up the year by listing the books I’d read during that past year. But I stopped doing it a few years back when the number decreased. However, a large part of that decrease is because I list in my calendar when I finish reading a book, but I don’t count the books I’m editing and publishing (and those, I tend to read two or three times: reading to decide whether or not to buy, then editing, then proofreading). So I’m going to see if I feel embarrassed by the size of the list this year.

Books I read in 2018:

Robert A. Heinlein: Requiem edited by Yoji Kondo. Yes, I’d never read that book before. I’d read the fiction, of course, but the essays, the speeches, and the pieces by others were all new to me. Also, having read it, now I think I really ought to seek out the movie Destination Moon.

The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life by Cookie Monster. Kind of cute.

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography. I hadn’t realized when I started it that it was mostly presented as campaign material for his hoped-for return to politics. Nevertheless, there was a lot in the book that was interesting. And visiting the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace soon after reading the book was a neat combination.

Isaac Newton, the Asshole Who Reinvented the Universe by Florian Freistetter. Kind of fluffy. The introduction was amusing, calling Newton an asshole, but that trope got old very quickly, long before the book was finished.

Timeshift: Tales of Time edited by Eric S. Fomley. I have a story in this one, so I read the rest of it. Some very good stories to share a book with.

Unidentified Funny Objects 7 edited by Alex Shvartsman. Some funny stories in this one. A few didn’t really do it for me, but that’s the concept of an anthology: something for everyone.

So that’s six books I count as having read this past year. But then I have to add in those I read and then published:

The Red Carnival by Susan Casper
The Bend at the End of the Road by Barry N. Malzberg
White Wing by Shariann Lewitt and Susan Shwartz
Fantasy for the Throne edited by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton
The Favored by Morgan J. Bolt
Release the Virgins edited by Michael A. Ventrella
Father of the Bride of Frankenstein by Daniel M. Kimmel

Plus another half dozen that I worked on as a freelance editor. And that’s not counting books I read with an eye to publishing, but then decided not to. So yes, I feel a little better about the number of books I read this year.

Release the Virgins is being released

releasethevirginspileJanuary 2 was the official date of publication of the newest Fantastic Books anthology, Release the Virgins (which was funded via a very successful Kickstarter project). Ebooks were sent to all Kickstarter supporters who requested them, and print books will be going in the mail in the next few days (stacks of them are currently here, as you can see from the photo). The book is available for sale on BN.com, Amazon.com, Powells.com, pretty much any place you buy new books. (With one exception: Amazon for some reason is not offering the trade paperback directly, but only from third-party resellers; they do, however, have the hardcover available.) I’ve just finished uploading the ebook version to BN and Amazon, so that should be out there soon, too. It’s been an exciting (and busy) day.

Publishers Pick

1604599189Have I mentioned that Fantastic Books is one of the founders and regular participants in Publishers Pick? PublishersPick.com is “independent publishers and authors of speculative fiction bringing you the best of their catalog at incredibly discounted prices.” Yep, each week, three new ebooks available (for one week only) at more than 50% off their cover prices. The reason I’m posting about this now is that this week, one of the three books is a Fantastic Books book, specifically, S.N. Lewitt’s Cyberstealth, at more than 60% off the regular cover price. Grab it now! (The other two books available this week are Edward M. Lerner’s Trope-ing the Light Fantastic and the anthology Robots: the Recent A.I.)

Quotes needed, from or about books

For a project I’m considering, I’m looking for quotes about books, and memorable quotes from books. Shorter is better, but in any case, with attributions. Also, because of the evergreen nature of the project, no political quotes from the last 50 years, please.
 
Examples, to show you what I’m looking for:
 
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” —Groucho Marx
 
“It’s silly to spend six months writing a novel when you can buy one for two dollars and ninety five cents.” —Gracie Allen
 
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” —Salvor Hardin, Foundation (by Isaac Asimov)
 
“As you wish.” —Wesley, The Princess Bride (William Goldman)
 
What are your favorites? Thanks.

President Trump’s Unpredictability is Crashing the Stock Market and Making the World a Dangerous Place

Recently, the stock market has been dropping, hard and fast. And while the financial pundits keep pointing to the economy as generally healthy, and that the stock market had reached stratospheric highs recently as reasons to say “it’s okay, the market goes up and down. It’ll be up again in the future,” there may be another, more insidious reason everyone is afraid to talk about.

Stock traders, investors, most people who deal with business pay attention to the world beyond the stock exchange. For instance, they watch the government to see what is happening.

And those buyers and sellers are deathly afraid of uncertainty. They know circumstances change, and there are unpredictable factors, like weather. But uncertainty about people is especially worrisome. And more than anything else, President Trump is heaping uncertainty onto the world stage in unprecedented amounts.

Today, for instance, he flip-flopped from agreeing to a short-term spending measure that would keep the government in business, to once again threatening to not sign the bill in an attempt to extort money for his border wall.

Yesterday, it was his sudden announcement that US troops will be withdrawn from Syria, apparently without prior discussion with our allies. And per Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s letter of resignation released today, the President’s decision is at odds with the advice of the Secretary of Defense: an Army general whose expertise and sole job for the last two years has been the safety of the United States through the proper deployment of US troops and equipment.

The President rampaging all over the map without warning, without constancy, and apparently without thought is making us all nervous. A strong nation should be unpredictable to its enemies, but its allies and especially its citizens should be secure in the knowledge that sudden changes will not happen without warning and apparently without reason.

The President needs to tamp down his natural inclination to sudden decisions and sweeping declarations without sufficient foundation and research.

Direct communication to the people is nice, but his use of Twitter is horrible. The President’s unshakeable faith in his own rightness—regardless of the input from his advisors—is misguided. As President of the United States, it is his job to make the most important decisions, and those decisions, those concepts, are so complex that they can not (should not) be explained in 140 characters. As President, he has the ability to surround himself with the smartest people on the planet, the best experts in every field to give the best possible advice. And constancy, comfort, and faith in our President flows from the knowledge that he is relying on that good advice. But it seems every time the President opens his mouth, he shows that he is not bothering to seek out that advice, not bothering to think through the issues. That uncertainty—that we, the people, cannot predict what the President will do from hour to hour—is dangerous and, as we’ve seen, damaging to the economy.

#PresidentTrump #economy #stockmarket #government #uncertainty

Analog likes Fantasy for the Throne

1515423301Don Sakers, writing his “The Reference Library” column in the January/February 2019 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, has reviewed Fantasy for the Throne. He says, in part, “A little gem. Or rather, here are 40 little gems by as many authors, all packaged in one sweet volume.… Most of us remember… the Andrew Lang Fairy Books.… In a way, Fantasy for the Throne is a modern, grown-up version of one of the Fairy Books. Definitely fun.”

New F.B. newsletter, and Publisher’s Pick

fb-logo-300pixel-revThe third issue of Fantastic Books’ irregular newsletter was released today, and is available for you at this link.

The big reason it went out today (but not the only reason) was to announce Fantastic Books’ participation in a new project called Publisher’s Pick, which will offer several ebooks at massive discounts each week. I’m very enthusiastic about this project, because we’re always looking for new venues to spread the word about our authors’ fantastic works. If you’re a reader, looking for good stuff at low prices (for a limited time), check it out. The books available this week are James Patrick Kelly’s The Promise of Space, Tanith Lee’s Dancing Through the Fire, and Jack L. Chalker’s Midnight at the Well of Souls.

Morgan J. Bolt Offers a Dark Future in The Favored

1515423816Fantastic Books is thrilled to publish Morgan J. Bolt’s newest YA novel, The Favored, which presents a far-future theocracy in which a teenager slowly realizes the ever-present bots are as human as he is, and that maybe his world isn’t the benign utopia he thought it was.

In the book, seventeen-year-old Kallam Gondwana doesn’t care much for the thrice-weekly church services he’s forced to sit through, but they’re a minor annoyance in the life of luxury and privilege he enjoys as one of Kanda’s Favored. Whether riding roller coasters or mountain biking with his best friend Kimble, Kallam fills his days with fun and relaxation. His greatest challenge is deciding which Vocational Classes to sign up for and if he should pursue a career designing coasters or serving as a pastor. But an accident throws him into a secret world he never dreamed existed. Much tougher choices with far greater consequences now lie before Kallam, as he realizes the utopian paradise he has always known is built on lies and oppression. As his eyes open to the truth that has always surrounded him, Kallam must decide what kind of person he is and which side he wants to stand on—no matter the cost.

Author John L. French (Monsters Among Us) says The Favored is “a fascinating coming-of-age story. A terrific adventure set in a believable and terrifying future.” Author Patrick Thomas (Murphy’s Lore) says it’s “a wonderful and frightening futuristic parable for readers of all ages.”

The Favored
by Morgan J. Bolt
Fantastic Books
$14.99, 228 pages, trade paperback. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2381-2.
$24.99, 228 pages, hardcover. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2382-9.

The Favored—and all Fantastic Books publications—are distributed through Ingram, and available through all major online retailers and specialty sf shops via direct order from the publisher. Review copies are available upon request.

President George H.W. Bush (1924-2018)

41bushPresident George H.W. Bush (1989-93) died November 30, 2018—after living with Parkinson’s Disease for some time (he used a wheelchair for at least the last six years of his life)—at the age of 94 years, 171 days. Born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, he was the fourth President born in that state (after John and John Quincy Adams, and John Kennedy).

He served in the US Navy during World War II (the last veteran of the war to be elected President, following Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford).

During the war, Bush married Barbara Pierce on January 6, 1945. They remained married until her death earlier this year: their 73-year marriage was the longest in Presidential history (Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter married 18 months after the Bushes; Gerald and Betty Ford were married just over 58 years.)

After the war, Bush worked in the oil industry and moved to Texas. In 1964, he lost a campaign for the Senate. In 1966, he was elected to the House of Representatives (serving two terms), and then President Nixon appointed him US Ambassador to the United Nations (he was the first—and to date, only—Ambassador to the UN to later be elected President). In 1974, President Ford appointed him de facto Ambassador to China (the post wasn’t titled until the resumption of full diplomatic relations in 1979). Again, he is the only former Ambassador to China to become President. After a year and a half in China, Ford appointed Bush the 11th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (he served for the final year of Ford’s term, and is the only former CIA chief to become President). In 1980, he sought the Republican nomination for President, but lost it to Ronald Reagan, who chose Bush as his Vice Presidential running mate. After eight years in that post, Bush became the first sitting Vice President to be elected President since Martin Van Buren in 1836. In 1992, he became the 12th President to be defeated in his bid for re-election (inaugurating only the second era in US history that saw three successive Presidents elected to two consecutive terms).

Following his retirement from the Presidency, Bush became only the second former President to see his son elected President, when George W. Bush won the election of 2000 (and was re-elected in 2004). Unlike John Adams and John Quincy Adams, however, George H.W. Bush lived long enough to see his son retire from the Presidency. Indeed, George and Barbara Bush were only the second couple to outlive their son’s Presidency (following Joseph and Rose Kennedy, whose son was assassinated in 1963).

Just over a year ago, Bush became the longest-lived President, when he exceeded Gerald Ford’s record (of 93 years, 165 days). Jimmy Carter, who left the Presidency when Bush was elected Vice President, was born 111 days after Bush.

President Bush’s funeral this week will be the first presidential funeral since Ford’s (who died December 26, 2006). That nearly-twelve-year span is the fifth longest time the nation has gone without a President’s death.

Bush is first President to outlive his wife since Richard Nixon (whose wife, Pat, died in June 1993, ten months before he did).

Bush’s death means Carter is first President to outlive two of his successors since Harry Truman (who died after Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy, and one month before Lyndon Johnson).

The Presidency is usually considered an older person’s job. George Bush has been retired from the Presidency for almost 26 years, but he only ranks fourth on the list of longest-retired Presidents. Jimmy Carter leads that list, having left the Presidency nearly 39 years ago. Herbert Hoover’s 31 years, which took the title from John Adams, is now #2 (Ford was retired for just shy of 30 years). Carter has been senior living President since Gerald Ford’s death twelve years ago. Now he is also the oldest living President, the oldest person to assume that title.

There are now more living Presidents from the Democratic party than from the Republican party (Democrats Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, and Republicans George W. Bush and Donald Trump) for the first time since Harry Truman’s death in December 1972 (from the time of Dwight Eisenhower’s death in 1969, the living Presidents were Democrats Truman and Lyndon Johnson, and Republican Richard Nixon).

President George Herbert Walker Bush’s funeral is scheduled for Wednesday, with his burial at his Presidential library in Texas on Thursday.